A green home is a healthy, comfortable, cost efficient home that reduces energy and water usage and protects the environment. Components of a green home may include:
- Specific construction practices to minimize and recycle construction waste;
- Careful insulation practices;
- Nontoxic interior finishes (low VOC paint, sealants, and carpeting);
- Components made from renewable resources (such as cork or bamboo floors, wheatboard cabinetry);
- Recycled content components (such as recycled glass tiles, recycled-content countertops);
- Energy efficient appliances (Energy Star rated refrigerator, dishwasher, water heater, etc.);
- Photovoltaic (solar) panels;
- Water efficient appliances and landscape irrigation (front loading clothes washers and moisture sensing irrigation systems);
- Stormwater collection (rainbarrels or larger cisterns);
- Careful placement of shade trees;
- Careful placement of windows to maximize interior light and ventilation.
The list is endless and allows you to use your imagination and creativity in constructing a green home.
Why Should You Build a Green Home?
There are many reasons to build a green home. Green homes save money, provide healthy indoor environments, and reduce impacts on the environment.
An energy efficient home can reduce electric and natural gas bills by 30% or more. Careful analysis of house size and configuration, insulation levels, heating and cooling equipment selection, and ductwork location all enhance energy efficiency. Designing your home to take advantage of natural wind currents, sun angles, and on-site shade reduces the need for air conditioning.
Water efficient appliances, faucets, toilets, and landscape watering equipment also save money on your water bill. For example, a conventional washer uses about 40 gallons of water per load. In contrast, a full-size Energy Star clothes washer uses 20-25 gallons per load. This saves as much as 7,000 gallons of water per year, and uses less electricity as well.
If specific attention is paid to the materials used in construction, a green home can reduce exposure to potential allergens and toxins. For example, protecting the ventilation ducts from dust and moisture during construction reduces the introduction of airborne particulates and mildew into the home. Using paints, adhesives, sealants, and wood products that don’t contain volatile organic chemicals and urea formaldehyde reduces exposure to chemicals.
Designing your home to reduce stormwater runoff helps protect Arlington’s streams, the Potomac River, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Runoff can be reduced by minimizing the building footprint, reducing driveway pavement and using water from downspouts to water the garden. Other ideas to make your home an environmentally friendly place include saving existing trees on the site and using native plants for your landscaping.